Interview by Billy Dowling-Reid | 5th September 2016
Nina has been working as a Trainee Digital Journalist with The Scottish Daily Record and Sunday Mail since July 2016. Her CV also includes freelancing stints with BuzzFeed, The List and Time Out. She obtained an MA in Multimedia Journalism from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2013, and a BA in Journalism Studies & Philosophy from the University of Stirling in 2011.
What has it been like transitioning from being a student to taking the first steps in building your journalism career?
Nina: I won't lie, it's been tough, and there were several occasions when I had to seriously reassess my situation and ask myself if a career in journalism was really worth pursuing and, more importantly, if I was good enough. But to be honest, I feel like every journalism graduate has to go through a similar kind of existential crisis at one point or another, like some sort of twisted rite of passage!
Having freelance experience with the likes of BuzzFeed and Time Out, what would you pick out as some of the highlights from your CV and what were your key learning experiences in these roles?
Nina: Obviously having big names like BuzzFeed and Time Out on your CV is going to look really impressive, but actually some of my highlights were from my days of voluntarily writing for independent music magazines and websites. It was a true labour of love and got me some excellent writing experience while I was still studying, aside from working on the student newspaper.
Overall, what I learned from my freelance roles were things like how to work independently, how to self-discipline, how to manage my own time and workload, things that you can only really learn by doing them.
You were offered a full-time role as a Trainee Digital Journalist with the Scottish Daily Record in July 2016. What have you learned from the job thus far?
Nina: Ah, so much! In the short time I've been there, I've picked up so many new practical skills like covering live news stories and events using social media and live blogs, and I've developed my understanding of SEO and how to get the most out of social media as a news organisation.
I've also learned how to work in an office environment and, more significantly, in a real newsroom. This was a learning curve in itself because, as a freelancer, I'd only ever worked from home or in a small magazine office.
Working heavily with digital and online content, in what ways do you think media students, graduates and jobseekers can perhaps utilise online platforms in order to make themselves more appealing to potential employers?
Nina: I say go all out. Create accounts on as many social media platforms as you can - the great thing is you can now set a lot of them up to cross-publish content so you only need to post something once instead of four or five times. You can also use your accounts to follow and network with potential employers and people already working in the field you’re attempting to break into – I found Twitter and LinkedIn to be best for this.
Also, it's a great idea to have some sort of online portfolio. Using something like Tumblr or WordPress is really simple once you get the hang of it and, with the right template, the results can look really professional. It can take a bit of time but is really worth it. You can link it back to your social media accounts and vice versa. Not only does doing all this make you and your work really accessible to potential employers, but it also shows how proficient you are in an online environment, from social media to content management systems. Your work literally does the talking for you.
Thinking back to your University days beginning in 2007, what advice would you give to your younger, student self, or to anyone else looking to build a career in digital journalism?
Nina: Don't give up. Seriously, don't do it. If I had £1 for every time someone said to me, "Ah well, what's for you won't go by you," then at least I could've made a good bit of cash from all those failed interviews and rejection emails. Yes, it'll be hard and there may be times when you feel like the whole universe is plotting against you to turn you away from your goal but as long as some small part of you feels you should keep going, you should listen to it. Be stubborn, be determined, keep working hard and you'll get there eventually.
You can follow Nina on Twitter via @NinaGlencross and check out her website: ninaglencross.com